Milk Thistle, the Detoxifying Herb
The herb silybum mariana is commonly known by its more melodious name “milk thistle.” This herb is called upon to protect the liver, as well as to treat disease of the liver and gallbladder. Some practitioners have also used milk thistle to lower cholesterol, reduce insulin resistance, and inhibit the growth of cancer cells in certain cancers.
Many drugs, such as acetaminophen, are toxic to the liver, so milk thistle is an effective natural remedy to restore the liver to a fuller function. Many people concerned with a healthy lifestyle adopt a temporary detoxification diet, and milk thistle can be an element within such a diet. After a detoxification period, milk thistle works toward maintaining a healthy liver.
Conditions such as PMS, hormone imbalance, or liver disease may be opportunities to utilize the valuable properties in milk thistle.
Milk thistle is generally a well-tolerated herb and can be found in bulk as whole or ground seeds, as well as in capsules. One tablespoon of ground seeds can be added to hot cereal, salad, or protein shakes. The milk thistle root, also found at health food stores, can even be boiled for a unique stew base. Although an effective, convenient herb, milk thistle can cause adverse effects in rare cases, so one should check with a medical provider before choosing to add it to their diet.
Source: NIH, Dr. Melissa McClintock
Writer: Christy Anderson, staff writer